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Cantonese Cuisine l Chinese Cuisine l Etiquette l Other Cuisine

Chinese Cuisine

Chiu Chow

Chiu Chow cuisine, also known as Swatow food, originated from the city of Swatow in the coastal region of Guangdong. Seafood, goose, and duck are eminent features of this cuisine. The Chiu Chow people have a unique method of harvesting oysters by pushing bamboo sticks into oyster beds. They then wait for the sticks to encrust with mollusks. After that, the oysters are made edible and tasty just by grilling the oysters in their shells over a fire. In restaurants, however, oysters are fried in egg batter and clams served in a spicy sauce of black beans and chilies. Gray mullet is a popular cold dish, and pomfret fish smoked over tea leaves, along with fresh-water eel stewed in brown sauce are other highly recommended dishes.

Sauces are often sweet, using tangerine or sweet beans for flavor. Chiu Chow chefs are particularly skilled in carving raw vegetables into floral designs, thus bringing forth Hong Kong's most artistic dishes. Two of the most expensive Chinese delicacies - shark's fin and bird's nest - are the pride of Chiu Chow cuisine. The dried saliva, which lines the edible swiftlet's nest, provides the magic base for the famous birds nest soup. This nourishing saliva is said to rejuvenate the old and can be eaten together with coconut milk or almonds. The finest birds nest is claimed by a Hong Kong restaurateur who rents a mountain in Thailand, which he believes harbors the finest set of swiftlet nests in Southeast Asia.

Other equally tasty Chiu Chow specialties are the baked rice birds, which are seasonal fowl dishes stuffed with chicken liver and served by the dozens, as well as minced pigeon cooked with water chestnuts and eaten wrapped in crispy lettuce leaves spiked with a smack of plum sauce. A Chiu Chow meal ends with desserts made from taro, water chestnuts, and sugar-syrup, which are then washed down with cups of strong 'kungfu' tea. A simply extraordinary meal!


Hakka settlers mainly dwell in Hong Kong's New Territories. When they migrated from the northern regions of China to Hong Kong, they brought along their own traditional cooking. Their main dishes are stuffed duck and salt-baked chicken. Preparation of the stuffed duck requires some amount of time. The bird has to be deboned through a hole in the neck and then stuffed with a rich assortment of glutinous rice, chopped meats, and lotus seeds. Hakka cooking also makes do with unusual food sources, such as braised chicken's blood or pig's brain stewed in Chinese wine. These may seem repulsive to most foreigners, but to the Chinese, they make tasty delicacies that are good for one's health.


Originating from the imperial courts of northern China, Peking food is extremely rich and strongly spiced with coriander, peppers, and garlic. Noodles, dumplings, and breads are the features of this region's cuisine. The most popular world-wide dish is the Peking Duck. The duck's crispy skin is wrapped in thin pancakes with spring onions, cucumber, and plum sauce, and is well liked by both Chinese and foreigners alike. In some restaurants, diners will be regaled by the waiter who demonstrates how the skin is cut to perfectly lean slices and enveloped in smooth, white-colored pancakes, along with other ingredients. The leftover duck meat is then brought into the kitchen to be stir-fried or cooked to the diners' liking.

Another popular dish is the Beggar's chicken, which is stuffed with vegetables and herbs and sealed with clay before being cooked slowly. The guest of honor is usually invited to break open the chicken with a mallet.

If one is lucky enough, chefs at Peking restaurants display a 'noodle show' where they exhibit their expertise in tossing lumps of dough into the air until it turns into strands of noodles to be cooked.


Shanghai cuisine is typically heavier and oilier than other Chinese food. The foods are seasoned with sugar, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine, thus producing a sweet and zesty combination. Dishes are served in big portions and in thick sauces. Steamed dumplings and hairy crabs are features of this cuisine.

Hairy crabs are mostly eaten in late autumn when these freshwater crabs are sent from mainland China. This is a rather sought after steamed dish in Hong Kong. The best months to try hairy crabs are in September and October. Other year-round Shanghainese favorites include hot-and sour-soup, drunken chicken, yellow fish, and braised eel.


Bursting with flavor, Szechuan food is one of the spiciest cuisine in China. Some restaurants in Hong Kong often combine Peking and Szechuan dishes together so that people can taste the differences between the two. Szechuan chefs often add rich spices into their dishes. The spices include star anise, fennel seed, chili, coriander, and garlic. Common methods of cooking are smoking and shimmering that will give the fragrant seasonings time to infuse the food with mouth-watering tastes and aromas. It is not necessary for all the dishes of this cuisine to be hot and spicy. The crispy beef deep-fried with tangy kumquat peel, and smoked duck in camphor wood and tea leaves are favorites on the table. Unlike the northern preference for rice, Szechuan cuisine features a variety of noodles and steamed bread.

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